Scientists set new solar panel efficiency record

178 views
0

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

  • Solar power is now coming of age and every innovation, and every breakthrough only helps to accelerate its adoption


 

Turning sunlight, which is basically photons, into electricity, electrons, is a surprisingly tricky thing. While there have been experiments that have created solar arrays that can capture up to 40 percent of the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity, as well as solar panels that produce energy from rain, consumer solar panels are often significantly less efficient than their more specialised, and more expensive cousins.

 

RELATED
It's electric, US to cover 25,000 miles of roads with charging stations

 

According to experts even the best silicon based solar power technology, which is the mainstay of the consumer industry, should have a theoretical limit of 29 percent efficiency, which means that any consumer panel that can hit the low twenties is doing pretty well.

Nevertheless, we’re inching ever closer to that theoretical limit, and now, researchers at Kaneko Corporation have announced that they’ve developed a silicon solar cell with a record breaking 26.3 percent efficiency rating.

The score is only just barely higher than the previous record of 25.6, but that 0.7 percent gain was no easy feat. The researchers had to analyse the limitations of today’s solar cell designs and find new ways to overcome them. In the end the researchers decided that reducing the amount of optical loss was the best path forward so moved the lower resistance electrodes to the back of the solar cell in order to increase the amount of photons it could capture.

 

RELATED
New nanomaterial exploits radiation to create more powerful nuclear reactors

 

Ultimately, as this, and other improvements find their way into new products we’ll see the cost of solar power, which is already the cheapest form of energy in 58 countries, fall even further. All of which will help to boost adoption, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute is described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers.” Among other things Matthew keeps busy helping the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers ideate the next five generations of smartphones, and what comes beyond, the world’s largest chip makers envision the next twenty years of intelligent machines, and is helping Europe’s largest energy companies re-invent energy generation, transmission and retail.

Recognised in 2013, 2015 and 2016 as one of Europe’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an award winning author, entrepreneur and international speaker who has been featured on the BBC, Discovery and other outlets. Working hand in hand with accelerators, investors, governments, multi-nationals and regulators around the world Matthew helps them envision the future and helps them transform their industries, products and go to market strategies, and shows them how the combination of new, democratised, powerful emerging technologies are helping accelerate cultural, industrial and societal change.

Matthew’s clients include Accenture, Bain & Co, Bank of America, Blackrock, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deutsche Bank, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Du Pont, E&Y, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, HPE, Huawei, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group, McKinsey & Co, PWC, Qualcomm, Rolls Royce, SAP, Samsung, Schroeder’s, Sequoia Capital, Sopra Steria, UBS, the UK’s HM Treasury, the USAF and many others.

Comments
  • Bartt Kellermann#1

    24th March 2017

    More evidence that the price of oil will have a challenging time to climb back into the triple digits.

    Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *